En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
4 ratings

Tuesday - September 28, 2010

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Pollenless Cedar Elms for Georgetown, Texas
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

I am considering planting the Cedar Elm tree at my home in Georgetown, Texas. I was under the impression that only the female of the species produces the irritating pollen. Is this true?

ANSWER:

No, pollen is a guy thing.  Pollen contains the male gametes and is analogous to sperm in animals.   Females produce the irritating things known as kids. (For plants, the strategy is to produce them as seeds and not have to incubate them internally for nine months.)  Plants can be him (male) or her (female) or them (both male and female)."Them" kinds of plants can be further divided into those who have both male and female flowers and those who have flowers that contain both male and female parts.  The latter are called bisexual, hermaphroditic or perfect flowers. When flowers of both sexes are on the same plant, it is called monoecious. When the sexes are on two different plants, the species is described as dioecious.

Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elms) are wonderful shade trees.  They are recommended as a good substitute for oaks since they don’t get oak wilt. I love their yellow fall color. They are used by lots of different wildlife. Their flowers are perfect and are wind pollinated.  They bloom in late summer and fall - usually August to October and their pollen does cause allergies in some people.  Here is more information on them.

So in addition to having perfect flowers, I think it is a pretty perfect tree.

I'm wondering if maybe you are thinking about the pollen problems with Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper), a.k.a. cedar. These trees ARE dioecious and the cedar pollen is profuse and will travel long distances.  And of course, there are lots of them. This is the pollen that causes the most allergy trouble in central Texas. But it's the guys plants causing the problem.  The girls have the pretty berries.

 

 

More Trees Questions

Oak bark problems from Stillwater OK
May 14, 2012 - In my clients large oak tree there is bark stripped from the limbs in small pieces. No piece is larger than 1 inch by 1 inch and occurs on limbs high in the canopy. It does not look like squirrel doin...
view the full question and answer

Identification of red leaf tree with wispy, feathery plumes on top
June 25, 2009 - I am looking for the name of a red leaf shrub/small tree that has feather like, wispy plumes which grow out of the top most branches. I do not have a photo. I live in Canton, MI.
view the full question and answer

Over-trimmed junipers in Shell Beach CA
May 16, 2010 - Help! My husband decided to "trim" the juniper bushes that are in front of our house that create a great private front yard. I guess he cut back into the dead wood and now nothing is regrowing. It'...
view the full question and answer

Suggestions for native perennials in Staten Island, NY
April 03, 2008 - My back yard garden has a good base of evergreen shrubs and perennials all doing well in clayish soil and I am ready now to add color and texture in an area with partial sun. Can you suggest hardy...
view the full question and answer

Source for Pyrus ioensis var. Texana
July 09, 2015 - Any idea where I can find Pyrus (now Malus) ioensis var. texana for sale around the Austin area?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center